The will to muse over what was and what will be. The desire to put bookends on things. The old life was over a long time ago, and the rest has mostly been grasping at straws. Maybe this straw will be the one that takes.
See the face in the mirror. There is nothing left of the old to it.
The old was a dogged attempt to live a life based on worldly expectations of what a life like mine should be. I always failed. I waited quietly and desperately for someone or something to come along. I struck out and did things, thinking I was now doing a lot, but I was really doing next to nothing.
Go and read over everything I wrote during the last fifteen years and see for yourself. I did nothing, I knew no one, I went nowhere, and yet I somehow seemed to write more about these things than anyone would have ever thought possible. I may not have been the most prolific writer, but I certainly wrote a lot about things I knew nothing about.
I think that some people used to recognize me rather frequently as being someone spiritually touched in such a way that I might have a gift. I am talking about people like the itinerant preacher at the Steak n Shake in Orlando–when I was still innocent. He could see it in my eyes that I was “one of us.” People would also try to take advantage of me a lot. Maybe it’s just the white hair and lines on my face, but it could be more. I am harder looking now, and I rarely have a look of innocence about me.
I miss some of that innocence. I miss the aspect of it that allowed me to give people great latitude, assuming they mostly had the best of intentions even when it otherwise appeared that it wasn’t so. I miss being able to think that it really is “all good” and things will work themselves out for the best, that everyone is a good soul and more alike than not at some general core.
The innocence was also too much naivete, of course. Perhaps it was much too toxic as it was. There wasn’t a great faith in a higher power, simply an unfounded belief in Fate.
Putting faith in Christ as a completely grown-up man is a different exercise. It hasn’t been healthy for me to force faith and love to happen where there is yet to be any. This does indeed create kind of vacuum where negative thoughts of all kinds rush in. But, faith in Christ has become a tried and true way of returning to a deeper well of life-sustaining waters when everything else runs dry. For me, the limitations to the worldly path are so abundantly clear now, that it seems utterly absurd to wish for a life that is worshiped and adored by other people.
In many ways, the growing process of realization has been one that is more likely to see fewer bookends and harder stops and starts in life. I can see little threads of self growth and change connecting to the main, current one, in all kinds of ways. That awful night at the Hole in the Wall, for example, and the subsequent one not far off in the future where I walked home from a bar that was kind of far away because I was already done with that absurd life. But, I can go back even further to waking up on someone’s floor because I was too wasted to go anywhere. My friend left without me, and I had to lay there and wait for hours and hours for the host to wake up and take me home. Many moments like these along the way that were piercing my foolish path so that I would turn away from it.
I can remember desiring to get right with Jesus and God again back in 2004, getting drunk and watching some telEgelist and getting weepy about it, but waking up the next morning and worrying about what my “friends” and coworkers would say. The simple truth is, I never belonged with the drunken, God-hating, Christ-hating, rock n’ roll crowd. I may have had a simple and naive goal at one time to follow in the footsteps of my brothers at being rebellious and cool, but I had long since created my own personal quest to become a certain kind of person that alternative and hip kids would find to be authentic and appealing.
No matter how much I wanted to believe otherwise, my life wasn’t going to “fit” into this mold. The pull back to Christ was just too strong.
The hard part over the past few years as been less about having to explain my new self to anyone, as it has been to keep growing and not stagnate in a way of being that was merely good enough. The desire to grow with Christ, to be more involved in the work of the church, and be part of something bigger than me has been such an aching, acute one that I think most of my more recent anger and relapses into drinking have been more due to seeing this thwarted than anything else.
To meet people who seem like they are going to become great friends who will be with me there on that journey, only to see them completely stop talking to you–like the people from IS and church. To see so many so-called fellow Christians be so caught up in their own busy lives that you can go to church month after month without being made to feel like you are getting anything more than perfunctory recognition.
It’s never a good thing to be impatient with God, and I think that perhaps there are too many times where I say something to the effect of, “Okay, God, I hear what you need from me, I can take it from here,” and I take off running with it, without pausing to see if it’s even what God really wants me to do and certainly without continuing to stay close to God to make sure I am getting it right.
And so, I must take time every single day to reconnect, reground myself, and remind myself that I am not in the middle of the most incredible story ever told or on the greatest, most epic journey, but that I am a simple soul in the process of having a spiritual journey. I will wake up one day and look back on my life as a whole and see a complete story that God wanted to tell, but it may or may not be one that other humans will want to bother reading.